Tag Archives: PS4

The Community Nexus

This is not the first time I get here, but it is not a repetition either. Some things struck me and I reckon it is time for Sony, Google (Stadia) and Amazon (Luna) to wake up. To be honest, when I saw the earliest presentations by Sony I reckoned that they would be the first to take social networking to a new level, but no. I do not know whether they wanted Facebook to chip in, but after all the settings we saw pass by our screens, the setting is changing that either they start thinking things through, or they will be surpassed by others and it will cost them. Not unlike the Cocoon Network, it needs to have limitations, it needs to be advertisement free and it needs to service the gamers. Anything different might be seen as treason by these gamers and that would be disastrous. In this the idea that mimics Google Plus the most is the most appealing, yet it is not set in stone.

They need to consider a few things. Copy/Paste should be disabled, so that something stated on that cluster stays on that cluster (there will always be workarounds), but that is not the goal. You see the A-social network (Facebook) is full of flamers, trolls and shit stirrers and these networks can do without those. It needs to be clusters where gamers INVITE other gamers, and until the invitation is accepted no one has access. A person can only see other conversations in that cluster, they can copy what THEY added to other clusters, but it is cluster based. Then there are ‘commercial’ clusters. People who keep track of the game-makers like Microsoft, Ubisoft (if it still exists by them), Bethesda and so on. People want to keep track of their favourite games and game makers. People can add achievements and so on, but there needs to be a filter where we only see the achievements by a person that we also have. There should be more, but it needs to be a push station, if we include other means of social networking. It is the one flaw that is still not dealt with and no one has decent option. I reckon that Amazon has the greatest need, so that they can grow faster, but Google should not be sitting on their hands, not on this one. The visibility and growth of a console is versatility and Google dropped the ball twice already. In the first they decided not to produce games, it is not a real failing, but it is a weakness and therefor a threat. Then they let Amazon get close, in a field where they should have had a superior setting they ended up merely on par with Amazon, it still strikes me as odd. And in all this I do not care what Microsoft does, I simply do not trust them. 

And when we think about it, a console with community clusters leading to a nexus or a collection of nexuses was simply the next step and when Facebook screwed themselves over with Cambridge Analytica the others should have made a larger effort, as such Sony dropped the ball with the PS4Pro and the others are till not there, they need to because then Facebook launches Meta all over the place it will be too late for the other players to start and sitting on ones hands in a $200,000,000,000 market is folly even in the most conservative setting. In this Amazon clearly has advantages, but we should not rule out Sony. They need to do something and so far there is no indication that they are getting ready, making their advantage shrink, not by too much, yet any lagging lead is a win for the number 2 through number 5 consoles. That has always been the case and now will be no different.

That station is on the roll, and I reckon that the lack of that choice will hurt the players not ready in 2024. And when we see the carefully phrased denials, as well as the cautiously stated ‘We are working on it’ will be seen by gamers as a negative side in all this, do not take my word, merely watch how the gamers will ask in flammable ways why they were ignored (yet again). I cannot stress this enough. It is time for the consoles and streaming systems to consider what gamers need and where gamers would like to be. In this Twitter and Facebook might be nice, but the people are more and more weary of both of them and that is not a good place to set your console.

We all want to talk about our games and our achievements, but so far the people trying to flame what we do is running into the thousands, and that is causing a larger stage of doubt with gamers. Giving them a safe space is becoming increasingly essential. I see all over Facebook pages where a 17 year old proudly brags what he got done in FIFA and I see dozen hammer that person seconds later. Wouldn’t it be great if that person had a cluster with school and gaming friends and that person could share it just to them? That is the station for an invitation clusters only, and that need is fast and vastly growing, so why Sony never picked up that ball is a little beyond me. The streamers will not have that luxury, that much is clear to me.

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Presented choices

There is a flow in two directions, it is in most of us, it is stronger in the people who actively engage in critical thinking. It is often mistaken as ‘the devil’s advocate in us’ and I have made the same mistake. This is a dangerous place to be, not precisely dangerous, but hazardous. You see, we want to give ourselves time to mull things over and often that is good, nowadays with COVID, vaccines, lockdowns and other things happening at the same time it is hazardous. You see the media is no help, they are in it to create click bitches and stir flames, which gets them digital advertisement funds and traction. When you mull things over too many people are in a stage of making up their minds whilst the media is trying to cross them over to a field that benefits THEM and not the reader. Unless you are able to reject ALL media at a moments notice, that place you are in to mull things over goes from hazardous to dangerous and that is when things fall apart. The doubters get pushed into a place where they are slightly too uncomfortable, but not uncomfortable enough to forcefully take a stand.

This matters as gaming is in a similar place, or better stated the gamer is in an RPG game and is left to mull things over in doubt on what to do. There is a correlation of inaction towards too much signals as well as no signals at all. The brain seems to find the stage of non-signals too unnatural. And that is the stage any new RPG will find themselves in.

In the past it was not an issue for the mere reason that technology was not ready, now that it is too many gamers expect there virtual life to signal them in a similar way and even as technology is there, the game makers are not. 

It is not a setting of what to do to make it fit, it becomes a stage of adjusting the gamer to the ‘new life’. I was reminded of that in the last two days as I was rewatching the Harry Potter series. In the third film we are given the choice between what is easy and what is right, which fits the storyline of Harry and his gang (plus owl). Gaming and real life tend to not have that question, yet I see a larger wave go towards ‘What is easy or what is pointless’ and that is not the bill, but it is a concept of the two choices seemingly given. The mind loves a choice, even a fictive (or virtual) one and that gets us in hot water. 

So whilst we await the Hogwarts Legacy game, we wonder what is in it. We tend to compare to the RPG games that were truly fantastic and there we see Skyrim and Witcher 3 being the larger stage. So will Hogwarts have the Harry Potter CCG as an element? It is extremely doubtful, but there is an internal need to get a new RPG with some Witcher 3 Gwent game. We would want to be able to have our own house decorated in OUR style of choice (Skyrim) and the list goes on. This pushes the needs towards pointless, yet where is the setting on what the line from gaming to pointless becomes and that line differs per gamer and that low range and high range of that line is a gap no smaller than the Gran Canyon and that makes for an awkward programming stage. The opposite side leads to easy and grinding which could spell an early death for any future RPG game, so where to go? Fable 2 had an awesome solution towards vocations (Forge, Bartender, gambling) but the stage becomes how to remain unique, have elements like mini games and larger ownerships without breaking the IP and that is not an easy task. Even Skyrim with its levels of grinding is so close to perfect that people still desire this game 10 years later. I myself had the game on PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One and optionally (hopefully) in 9 weeks and 3 days I will have the PS5 edition, optionally a little later as I face all kinds of budgets, but the message behind this is strong, a good game lasts a very long time and that is where the game makers need to be. I believe that the best option is set towards a trilogy solution. We can play, we can alter and we can circumvent. Alter is adding a CCG or mini game option. Instead of looting the same place with consistent time, we can have the CCG to make is smarter, the mini game to make us richer and a combination for investments. It takes the mind of grinding. The CCG element could give us cunning, intelligence and the cards we win could lead to unique items like clothing that are rewarding depending on the class we play. We could get rare items that we need to make special potions (like the golden cauldron in Harry Potter CCG), and the list goes on. In Fallout New Vegas we were given the useless Snow globes that is until we met a person who paid dearly for it. There are the Vault-boy bobbleheads in Fallout, so what can we do to create the part that adds value to the game?  That depends on the game maker, but the objective would soon become a race to avoid the pointless borderline. 

The second borderline is less visible. Metal Gear Solid got there and it was not their intent because the last game was magnificent to behold, yet they got there, the game had gotten too big and soon in the game you felt like you were in a stage where it felt pointless (it was not) the game was too big for its own design and even if you consider revamping the stages, at some point (ACT 3) you started to wonder what it was for. I got there a few times and I loved the game, so we need to design carefully and become weary of what signals we give the player, too many and the gamer seeks the easy route, that same route gets trodden on when there are no signals, so there needs to be enough signals to make it worth your effort.

I believe that we are due for more time based stories and the best way is to let the conversations with NPC’s progress that, but there too too many of those and the game gets to be regarded as pointless. So how to go about the presented choices? One option is to limit NPC’s to optionally give quests in a set of two parameters. The first is the day of the week and the second is a correlation of conversations with other people in town. It gets so that each town has optionally 2-3 side quests a day, so beside the main quests and storyline quests you can score new quests each day in one place, to throttle the over-quest danger we limit the chances we get to the pointless border. By having enough signals we also limit the dangers of people heading for the easy line and on top of that, if we create a random partition that directs all the quests to a day at the beginning of the game there is a chance that two players end up having very different experiences making all players more and more curious on what more is there and how to find it. 

There are more things to do, but this is enough for today, today was to address the dangers of the pointless borderline and that borderline is a lot more dangerous than you think. 

If you do not head that line you could prematurely kill your own game in month one, an eerie setting that no game maker would ever want to face. More importantly, it also shows how we are treated by the media in todays events and that tends to reverberate in us too. So when we escape towards games we really need to get that signal stopped as soon as possible, it is perhaps the one danger any RPG faces, we tend to push ourselves into our RPG games the way we were before we started that game, emotional baggage and all, we cannot really hope to stop ourselves, but we can demand that whatever RPG game we play takes that feeling away within the first 10 minutes of gaming. I reckon it is part of the success of Skyrim.

Have a great day!

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Tome

The age of social networking in its present shape is ending, people are catching on and they have had enough. And the setting on social networking as it is at present is merely accelerating towards non-acceptability. As such, I thought it was time for gamers to have a setting where THEY decide to tell their story. The idea is an evolved idea of Google+, it had most markers right. So let’s start.

Grapes, not grape-juice
We have circles, groups, or as some would call it, a collection of grapes, grapes that become clusters, cluster that grow into vines. Yet at the start there is a gamer, he is the head of his cluster. This gamer invites people into his cluster. THEY and they alone can see his details, they can comment on his achievements, on his games and on his choices. The gamer is central here. Others cannot forward his stories, but on some events (like achievements) they can forward the image into their cluster.

Within the cluster of the gamer is the system, the game and the publishing house. Let’s start at the beginning. The system. 

The system is an auto created cluster. So as the system is (for example) the Amazon Luna, every gamer there will have a Luna cluster. They are automatic a member. Here Amazon can publish all Luna events and the gamer can look into the cluster to be aware of the latest news.

The Cluster
There are numerous clusters, each game will have its cluster and there is the new stage. A person can connect to it, they can view it or they can set it to hidden. The grape can be bright, or dark. In that game cluster, the game maker and the publishing house can keep you appraised of the latest news, it is also a stage where members of your cluster will have their stories, so you do not need to enter their cluster. 

Publishing house
It is the one cluster that you either love or make dark from day one. In this example, if you have Assassins Creed 2, Assassins Creed Origins and Watchdogs, you will have a Ubisoft cluster and all the games that you have will be here as well, but they will also show games that you do NOT yet have. In this case Ubisoft can reach out and inform you that there is news on Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction, Far Cry 6, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, and more. As such you are informed on everything that is and all that comes. 

Why this way?
It is about YOUR privacy, your data goes nowhere you do not want it to go. And in this the publishing houses do not get anything, other than what you agree to in their games, or on the Tome. It will be YOUR choice and your right to do so.

Time
Time is friend and foe, this has always been the case and over the years your clusters become vines and turn it all into a vineyard and there the harsh need to prune your tome becomes optionally essential, You can easily cut games and publishing houses, yet friends are different. When you prune a friend, you also prune yourself from their cluster, it goes both ways. 

The final cluster (at present)

Is the gamer cluster. In the past I was connected to other gamers, usually as we games a game other some games together in multi player mode (Mass Effect 3), that cluster is a collection of person and game. You only share there what concerns you concerning that game and that game alone. You can massage all kinds of stuff, but it will be connected via the game and the person. 

In this trolling and mass marketing is a thing of the past. It allows people to focus on why they are on the system (to play games) and over time it will be a much larger stage of connecting to other players. 

This is what I hoped Sony would deliver and they never did, the PS4 remained a little disappointing in that remark, but nw with streaming games, the streamers will have an advantage to create their own network and connect gamers as well as connect to gamers in that way. 

The systems are making mistakes, and I get it, they think they need to rely on Facebook and others, but that time has passed and to become independent has a larger stage of benefit, they merely need to start seeing the opportunity, instead of the imaginary financial gains the present networks claim to be. 

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The evolution of god

Yup that was more than a mouthful. Peter Molyneux was ahead of his time, and in all this he was not limited by imagination, he was limited by hardware, as was Sid Meier, as was Richard Garriott, as was David Braben. They made gaming great and their ideas live on, even though in at least one stage it was corrupted by a greed driven corporation hoping that micro transactions would safe them. But what if the next generation consoles and cloud generation gaming is the foundation of new games, what happens when we take the original concept and make it into something serious in a sandbox environment? If we think back to the ‘original’ gods, what happens when we can revisit the age of Hades, Poseidon and Zeus? What if we have the ability to become a god? What if it starts small? What if the game evolves through us, not that WE evolve in a set game?

Consider that energy grows, so consider that we start with accumulating via a bees, wasps, hornets, ants, or termite colony? We get one choice and we still have to find the right colony. Now we can spend time trying to find that colony or we can take a gamble, and as one colony grows the power within us and we row by directing the colony, we get a larger stage, because the colony is merely a first step. From the colony we can grow towards larger herds, towards singular animals and they too provide energy, they provide power and optionally evolve us in other ways too. You see in the old games it was about one person, one setting you and your antagonist, but in this day and age it is outdated, computers have grown more powerful, have grown towards multi creatures, and in all this we merely think of the old god the three, then we get Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Apollo, Artemis. But what if these templates are merely that, mere templates and you get to decide what kind of a god you become? We think back to (the good old days and) a game like Black and White, which was awesome but what happens when our power is depending on how we grow the initial power base? We can rely on the biggest termite foundation ever, but life is a setting of checks, balances and equilibrium, because without  stage of equilibrium you always end up with nothing. So far no game ever went there. We might consider that before the PS4 it as not possible and you might be right, but now in the PS5 era, we see that games like Elite Dangerous become larger than the original creator thought was possible on a BBC Micro B. That is no longer the case and even as I would love to play Populous 2 again, time moves on and we need to push games forward too. As far as I can tell, no one has made a clear push forward in setting a new stage of the god games and in light of the options within cloud gaming that is slightly weird. Cloud gaming is by default the stage where these games can evolve, so what I stopping game developers from going there? A lack of creativity maybe? It took me a moment to pause nd a little of pondering to set a new stage, and if I can do it, those wannabe great software houses should be ahead of me by a lot, so why aren’t they?

And all this is before you consider Neil Gaiman with American Gods, where the new gods get their energy and power from a very different stage, so what is keeping game makers from evolving as well? 

And all this is set to a stage of western gods, I haven’t even considered what a place like India could add to the mix. And I got this far on only one coffee.

Have a great weekend

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Moon Shine

I wish we were talking about that home brew alcohol, but we are not, this is about Amazon Luna and their counterpart Google Stadia. Now, I am telling you this from all kinds of selected sources, I did not play either myself, I feel that this is not as important as the setting round it. The first thing that I have to say right now is that I am pretty amazed with the second wave quality that Amazon Luna offers, from the early Alpha stage that some reported on as well as the second wave that several subscribed to, Amazon Luna is way over and well above standards (to a larger degree). I would think that Google Stadia had the upper hand, but that is not the case, they are surprisingly even, yes Google Stadia has an advantage, the load times of games is decently faster than Luna, but the rest, whilst in the game they were on par and that is a surprise I initially did not see coming. Yet overall they both fail in other ways. They are both relying on Ubisoft to bring the great titles, yet that is the largest danger when we see the stage that Ubisoft provided for and at this point, there is not a whole lot of faith that they will be around by the end of 2022 (they did this to themselves). 

My issue is with the Amazon 4K gaming promise. You see my YouTube has all kinds of lag and latency issues when I go above 1080p, so does Netflix, I do not even bother with 4K, merely because of congestion. That is not a setting that everyone faces, yet they will when larger cities get over 100K users streaming gaming via their internet, it is almost unavoidable, the infrastructure is at present too weak. Yet in 2-3 years if 5G comes through to a much larger extent and a much better bandwidth and speed, yes, it would work without hesitation. Most rural places will have this issue off the bat, so France and Germany can pretty much forget about it outside of their really big cities and I wonder if Spain, Italy, Greece and a few other nations are ready for that level of congestion. It makes both Google Stadia and Amazon Luna a USA Big city setting, OK, I exaggerate, yet in all I am not that far off. 

There is a second setting, each system is missing out on exclusive titles, it worked for Nintendo, It worked for Playstation and even Xbox, the exclusive titles have always pushed platform and neither has an overwhelming set of exclusives, which is a shame, yet that might be become the hunting ground in 2022-2023, yet not for now and some of the critics they all seem to agree, Luna is for now seemingly the winner. I agree with their assessment. Google is not showing skin in the game, no commitment, if they stop, the user is in nowhere land and there is no indication that Google is committed, that signal is more clear with Amazon, even as load times are not as fast as with Google, that might merely be a temporary delay, in all I personally had expected more from Google, so to see Amazon win this was a bit of a surprise, and if Amazon has its own share of exclusives, the streaming service might become set and match for Amazon, but let’s be clear, it is too early for that verdict at present. 

It is however a thing of the future, 5G will make it clear and when your local internet provider is upgraded to something serious, it will be a real horserace and to be honest, Amazon is doing a lot better then expected with its stallion Luna, it is close to equal to Google, a level of equality I had not expected, so as I personally see, the one having the more and the better exclusives will win the race, they both have Ubisoft games, so that is not an overwhelming advantage, just like the previous war, the exclusives set the race when the hardware is too close an equal, a stage we saw between Xbox360 vs PS3 and again Xbox One vs PS4, yes personally I see the Sony sides to be superior on a few sides, but for the gamer that was not clear and from that point of view they were close, and in both cases the stage of exclusive games made Sony a winner, a war that Google vs Amazon will see soon enough and whilst we see a level of melancholy with Sonic and other older games, it is the exclusive games that will give a system the game, set and match signal, and I wonder if Google is willing to commit to that, that was voiced by a few critics and I see their point of view, I am not sure if I completely agree, but their points were valid, I reckon that by the end of Q1 2022 the stage will be decently clear, at that point the people will more strongly commit to the
Moon, or to the stage, will I? Not sure, I am happy with my PS5 and in this the exclusives will push me in one direction or the other, as will it be with other gamers as well. 

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Replay the past in the present

We all do that, we sometimes think we can and sometimes we hope it will be an option. I am on this horse because I am slightly too angry with UK Common Law, and I need to cool down, so I hope that THAT article will come next. To cool off, I did something I had not planned, I installed Skyrim on the PS5, in part because I saw a tweet regarding Skyrim that I can get it to do 60 fps on the PS5, part because I am still one achievement short (slay the legendary dragon), in the last two attempts there was too much grinding going on and I am still playing it on the PS4 as well. Yet for some reason I had forgotten how satisfying the first 10 levels were. The limits, the setting of joining groups, and the setting of having no place. I had forgotten just how perfect Skyrim is. Yes, I know, I have seen the crying people on ALL the bugs, but to be honest, I have had very little issues. Yes, there are a few glitches, but that comes with the setting of a game this big. Oh, and over 9 years we see that there are 17 patches (including the last one for PS5, I am guessing), a game that is 9 years old (released 11.11.11) and still it holds a sway over us (at me at the very least). A good game is really hard to find and Bethesda outdid themselves here. I had designed Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, and I had hoped it would equal Skyrim, of course my ego feels that I would be surpassing it, but if I only equal it, the game would be a massive success. This is seen in two ways, in the first, write yourself a list of games that you still love to play (beginning to end), and I reckon that this list has less than a dozen titles, If the game must be older than 3 years, the list will be less than half of what you had and in 9 out of 10 cases Skyrim will be on there.

The future options
In light of the news that has been out there, 2021 will be a great gaming year. This is part of what is already out there and part because Bioware has announced a remastered trilogy of Mass Effect on PS5 and that Microsoft contraption. There is off course the first game, yet it is the second one that takes the cake, until recent seen as one of the best tactical RPG’s ever created, the people (read: gamers) have been eagerly awaiting that title. There are all kinds of rumours as to the reason, but in the end it does not matter, millions want to replay that trilogy and on nextgen is a setting that no one wants to miss. Even as I set the premise last year n an idea to relaunch ME4 (together with ME5) to give a larger credibility to the titles, we see that no matter how good that could be, it might never be as great as ME1 through ME3. I get that, the story was breathtaking no game could ever equal that in that era and even now games are struggling to equal those three titles. Bioware and Bethesda set the markers to near perfection and that I what gamers crave, that near perfection feeling, Ubisoft seemingly never understood that. 

Yet no matter who we embrace and what title we go for, we go for the entertainment and in that setting I looked again at the station of the open RPG I created (as a response to Microsoft buying Bethesda) for developers to freely use for Sony exclusive games. It was my way to make the Microsoft $7,500,000,000 to be a lot more expensive than they bargained for. In this I made a few more modifications, or perhaps a better description would be ‘a conceptual path to allow for more’ in this the idea to have 1-2 additions to be played on mobiles, free games that enhances the first one. In Fable we saw Pubgames, yet what happens when we create mobile games (android and iOS), that allows players to do some of the menial tasks in the game, whilst you are on route to work/school, during lunch, or just when you are out enjoying the sun. 

Work
The work app is one where the rejuvenated hero works a job (depending on what job he scored), over 30 minutes you tire the hero and he sleeps it off whilst you work/learn, and at the end of that time you come home, start the game and the hero has gained credits and coins.

Education
Whilst our hero works he learns and gains experience (not as much as in the game), but he could learn and achieve an extra skill point, in addition to that, whilst the hero learns, there will optionally be a stage where new and more equipment becomes available.

As we have thee money to go out and explore, we see that the game gets a larger push towards the gamer, to see more, learn more and do more. Yes, we acknowledge that there was a great stage to play Fable 2 and own the pub BEFORE you entered the tower, yet what happens when your years of absence made you lose the pub and its income? The setting is a mere reflection (I am not negative towards Fable), we need to see that there is a whole range of options and in this I moved as far away from the Bethesda s possible, not because the games were bad, no the opposite, they were really good, so creating something different was essential and when you look at all the D&D games, it is surprising how alike some are. If another franchise gets to stand up, it needs to be different from other games, it needs to set a different stage and it needs to have larger options, in this large is reflecting on the application of other solutions giving you more options to enjoy exploring, and do things. 

In this, I merely thought of a part of my consideration (Elder Scrolls VII) and I came up with another bevel to implore and to exploit. A setting that TES4 and TES5 didn’t have to the degree I considered and as such, I can add this to my game as it was never there, and that is not all, even as we see the larger stage of new opportunities, we need to weigh, just like in every game, will it be an addition, or merely a fab that goes nowhere? It is an important question to ask ourselves, because we always think that our idea is perfect, but that is not a given and even as I create something new, it will not be for every gamer, it will be for the RPG lover, that is who I cater for, and I will say right now, if you do not care for RPG games you might not like this game and even if you like RPG games, you might not like this either. I cater to a group of people and I will be happy when that group is larger than expected, but unlike Ubisoft, I keep realism in the visors, those who cater to all will never cater to anybody, I still believe that and so far I have not been proven wrong.

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What was the past

It is something we all face, we see what we had and we miss it. Consider NCIS, an awesome series, and when we were introduced to Agent Fornell, I remembered Joe Spano, he was young innocent, wearing a bowtie and being the psychiatrist at Hill Street blues station. I miss that series at times. I know time moves on and we got Blue Bloods now, yet Hill Street Blues struck a chord in 1981, others did less so, it is hard to explain, because it sounds negative on the series that are out now, but the reality is that something got lost in TV series in the last 10 years. There are series that spring outside the equation, series like NCIS, the Magicians, Lucifer, Fortitude, American Horror Story, but the equation is very unbalanced. When you are trying to figure out how that happened, do not worry, it is simple. In 2019, the number of original scripted television series in the United States hit 532. It is almost 450% up from 1981. Hollywood is so much towards creating amount and less about creating quality, which is why the series I mentioned and a few more stand out. I keep n hearing mentions of Game of Thrones, but not much more, one show takes the cake and that used to be different. Discussions were going on regarding Hill Street Blues, Dallas, Dynasty, Bergerac, Tatort, and a few more. Yet nowadays, the amount of series crossing our eyes increases, yet it seems that nothing between the ear sticks. That tends to be quality, not quantity. There is a reason why a series like NCIS has been around for 18 seasons. Yet at times I still think of the old Hill Street blues station. And each nation had its own quality shows. Germany brought us Tatort and Derrick, the UK gave us Bergerac, the Avengers, Hammer house of horrors, and the list from other nations goes on. But now it seemingly needs to be American, whilst overall (with a few exceptions) the quality is not fantastic, not bad, just not great. And I do believe it is not the cast, not the team and not the writers. It seems to be the pressures to create on too limited a schedule with repetitive ideas again and again.

Why is that?
It is no secret, Hollywood is all about return on investment, but that circle becomes virtual and fictive when quality goes down. There is a need to make money and we get that, I am not against the idea of making money, but what do you think when 2019 had 532 series, all needing originality, all needing ideas and only so many writers with actual original ideas around. It didn’t require rocket science, it was a simple equation. So how long does it take for the Hollywoodians to figure out that there is a limit to quality series that can be produced? You might think that I am talking out of my (non-mouth), but the setting of Netflix handing over $18 billion in the last year for IP should get us to ask questions. Netflix’s 2019 costs to buy, produce and license content will be $15 billion. And when you considered they made a little over $20 billion in 2019, it seems that I am wrong, but am I? Consider how long this pattern can continue? No one denies that you have to spend to make money. Yet, how is the equation correct? And 

Netflix is merely one of several stations, so when this model implodes, we will see Netflix, HBO, Stan, Apple, Amazon and Disney, all spending billions, all whilst the people will have to make choices and we get that, as such some will survive, some will not, we all get that. Yet at that point, what happens to HBO, Stan, Disney, Apple, Amazon and Netflix? Where will you be? 

Differential
I need to set a separation here, we have the money side and the creation side. Yet the money side  will hinder, impair, and optionally drive the creation side, even though the negative sides are only looked at after things go wrong. I believe that continuation can only exist if the quality is of the highest caliber and I personally believe that this is not possible when you create 532 series in a year. At some point something has to give and that is before we consider that there are really good series out there and no one denies that they are good. Yet consider that in 2009 Joss Whedon created an amazing series called the Dollhouse, not merely a good series, it set the tone on serious matters and was cut off after two seasons. He also lost the tone on Firefly, yet that one is still around, after 17 years, now seen as a cult classic. Out of the 532 series, what else will we lose out on, because they are the silent victims, scrapped because the moment was wrong, the analyst did not get what mattered and as such the makers lose out. This setting is important, because with 532 titles that group will increase, too little time, too much to miss out on.

Creation cut short for reasons not within the stage of an audience. Streaming makes this a much smaller factor, but it still will not make it zero. Yes streaming will be important to give good series a larger chance, but in all that the numbers are not adding up, not when you consider what Netflix as one provider sets their cost at and all the other streamers with their own costs as well. Soon it will change again, yet not for the reasons you considered before. You see streamers have one larger station, and internet congestion will hit them too, especially in light of the issues hitting the internet. And we will see places all over the world get a earful of fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), and int he end we will rely on all kind of matters, but we forgot that streaming is not alone, there are PC’s for gaming, there are computers for FaceTime, there are computers for work from home, gamers and now with PS5 and the new Xbox it will increase, there are ‘digital editions’ consoles without 4K drives and they all have to download. And they will need to do so a lot more than before on the Xbox One and PS4. The stage is not on the gamers, but we have already seen the news on YouTube and Netflix throttling down, so how can the growth rate continue when the internet is clearly becoming the weakest chain in that link? In March the Guardian reported ‘Disney+ streaming service to launch in UK with lower bandwidth’, so there you are, your new 4K TV so that you can admire Baby Yoda in the Mandalorian, and the service can merely give you 1080 resolution. That is the reality and it is not getting any better until 2023, so can you consider the issues that streaming has and cannot deliver? It is not merely the amount of series, it is the stage where we cannot see their full potential and the UK is not alone, these elements are showing up all over the Commonwealth, al over the EU and the US is also not absent of issues. It was a stage I saw coming in 2018, yet they all declared me a fool, now they say it is a complex issue. Well it is not, it is the issue that was clearly out in the open, ignored by too many. Even now we see the blame game continue n other fields, how long has the PS5 been sold out? How long did we know that this was a setting of hundreds of thousands per nation and we get ‘The UK’s biggest game retailer blames PS5 size for launch delivery delays’, really? The size was known for months, the amount of systems were known for months. Too many people are reacting at the 11th hour, in systems, on the internet and with the ISP’s. Who will they blame when streaming is cut down again? When do the people get the next news from ISP’s that there are issues? Oh, wait, that moment passed already. When we are treated to “Possibly the most common form of buffering occurs when your internet speed is too slow to download the amount of data needed”, as well as “You need at least 25 Mbps for 4K streaming video on your computer or Ultra HD enabled devices”, yet on a global scale and especially outside of metropolitan area that issue is becoming an issue in streaming. So as Net Neutrality is back on the political table in the US, it becomes a massively larger issue to face. This all is not the fault of the streamers, lets be clear about that part, they are a factor, but not the cause, like the blame game couriers, here the ISP’s should have been ready to a much larger degree and we cannot blame them for the covid lockdowns, yet the setting of bandwidth limits has been known for some time, at least a year and that was also out in the open, as such the stage we see will be a larger issue and that I merely a fraction of the station that I see, the math does not add up, it was clear for a much longer time and so far too many parties are aligned to ignore that part. We see solution A, option B and everyone dances around the overwhelming lack of bandwidth.

Consider that Saudi Arabia has a 5G internet that is 750% faster than anything the US has, did anyone consider the weird setting in that regard? And the interesting part is that no one is asking the questions that matters, how come that Saudi Arabia of all places has an internet is so much faster? It is a much larger setting and the people are seemingly kept blind, which is fine by me, but when you lose out on HD episodes of NCIS, American Horror Show season 10, Superman & Lois (2021), or A Discovery of Witches season 2 (2021)? When the throttling continues or increases, what happens to streaming? What happens to net neutrality? Did anyone consider that part of the equation when they saw the $15,000,000,000 bill that Netflix had for 2019? There was a reason why sacking Huawei was a really bad idea and others will soon catch up on that idea. I have no issues with an alternative being found, but none have the capabilities at present and they are unlikely to have them until 2022, should you doubt that? Take a look at how abysmal the USA has its 5G at present, look at how fast streaming is in rural USA, you see the US is a lot more than the 25 large cities and plenty of people live outside these places, should they not be able to stream at the max? When we see that discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, as is the streaming of rural versus metropolitans discrimination or not? Consider that for a moment. So let’s not wait until the 11th hour, let’s make sure that the right people look to the right places quickly, the term sooner rather than later cannot apply, we are already 2 years too late for that. It is the technology side, with the finance and creativity, too many forgot about the technology side of it and now it starts calling foul, it cannot deliver more.

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Deadline or death line?

I said it before, and I stick to my view, Ubisoft is in a large stage of near death, they might be denying that part, but their setting is not good, or is that was not? Let’s be clear, today I went through Watchdogs: Legion and I am decently impressed, it is an absolute jump forward from Watchdogs 2, To be fair, this looks really good and after an hour, it still looks good and plays well. As I stated, the next two games define the future of Ubisoft and at present it seems like they got this one right. I saw issues in earlier editions, but as this was before beta, it does not count and I have every intention to take another look. No matter how we try to slice it, a few things show up, first of all, those angry (read: anti) game reviews are not as present as before, some people had plenty to bitch about Watch Dogs 2, yet I enjoyed most of the game (a few weird parts), the story was decent and the intro to WD3 is a lot better than the second one, the game has a few issues as I spotted them in WD3 that is, but it is not a disabling one, some of the conversations are really too unreal, but that could be a US view on British accents, I do not know, but it flaws there, yet two elements, the first is that this is a video game, second any voice can be regarded as flawed, it is how you look at it and does it hinder the game? I think not. One review I liked can be seen (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9kEuTyKufo). It gives a few things away, but not too much. In light of my earlier statement (regarding Ubisoft), it is important to note that this game shows a first sign that Ubisoft is addressing the stupidity we saw in earlier releases. I believe (at present) that AC Origins is still the best game that Ubisoft has released in the near past and this game is making a serious approach to breaking that achievement, something we had not seen for much too long. I might add more on the weekend as I progress through the game, yet so far I have to admit: “Well done Ubisoft”, which in light of my earlier views of other games is important to notice. 

I have nothing on AC Valhalla, What I saw earlier turned me off, yet I will admit that it was an early beta version, so lots to fix and even as some parts seem nice, there is a more apparent stage of addressing, which I believe is flawed, but it is based on incomplete views, as such I am refraining of actual criticism against the game at present.

Even as I still believe that Ubisoft is optionally on its last legs, the fact that the systems that WatchDogs: Legion is released on the big two consoles, with additions to PC and Google Stadia should not be underestimated. At present it indicates that Ubisoft could get its footing back and if the game turns out as good as it seemingly is (I honestly cannot say at present), the fact that a title like this is making it to Google Stadia as well is important. It could end up being a desired taste for EVERY Google Stadia player and that is important to Ubisoft as well. For Google it matters as it is not out on the Apple Arcade (as far as I can tell), and that will matter to Google in this upcoming race. It actually got me to one (small and insignificant) flaw at present, if I am wrong, I will be the first to apologise. When you consider that this game is in London and it was made by Ubisoft Toronto (that village in Canada), it suddenly dawned on me that the game is lacking NPC backpackers. London is filled with them, you know people with backpacks speaking in a Canadian, American and Australian accent (and plenty more dialects), they could have made that into a game achievement ‘Getting around: possessed a backpacker from every commonwealth nation’, just something to consider down the DLC road. Still, the fact that I am thinking of things to add, is important, as I am not thinking of things that required essential fixing. I might be too early in the game, but I have not felt this invigorated since AC Origins and that is a good feeling to have, Ubisoft is seemingly getting it right, if I attack them, I must also acknowledge that they are doing the right thing, it feels important to do that too.

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The set stage

It started a week ago, not directly, but the thought was born at that point, it was the realisation that the stage is set to the player, the stage is empty, especially we set the stage as we are playing an RPG game, it is perhaps the largest issue that a game can have. The danger of repetition. To get there we need to return to 1985. I was a happy chappy. I had my CBM-64 and the whole world was in front of me. That year two games came to my attention, well, not completely, the first game I had already seen as a friend had a BBC Micro B. Yet getting the games was an issue, but there it was on a Friday I was made aware that a shop in Breda (90 minutes by train) had both games. It was odd as I was living in Rotterdam, but there it was a dealer in Breda had both Ultima-3 and Elite, both for the CBM-64 and I was off to the races (the train) and a little less than 2 hours later I was in Breda having bought 1 copy of each game. My love for these two games continues to this day. Of course Elite is now Elite Dangerous (and a few thousand times bigger) and Ultima no longer exists, but the stage is there. Yet as I remember my days in Elder Scrolls Oblivion, we tend to set course for the most beneficial route, but what happens when that is not an option? In case of Ultima, what happens when 3,4,5, and 6 are played, but in this, what happens when we influence the development of the game for others? Ultima is an excellent example as the map remained close to the same in 4,5,6, and 7. But those who have played Oblivion, perhaps you remember the Rockmilk Cave north of Leyawin. Because there are two fighting parties, you get to have the drop n those who survive and get a lot more loot, early in the game that matters, and it is close to a city, so it is a ka-ching moment. But what happens, when everyone does that? We get away with it the first time, but what happens when the people in that cave become a lot more adapt? What happens when the second time around the people are suddenly 1 or 2 levels higher and that happens in EVERY subsequent visit? This takes me back to Ultima 5, near Empath Abbey there is a good source of Spider Silk, so what happens when everyone does that? What happens when we suddenly have to ACTUALLY explore to find what we need? I have been thinking of a first person approach (an Oblivion approach) to the Ultima games. You see, that game had everything from the get go and it would take plenty of designers 10 years to get close there, so what happens when we get the stage like Oblivion, but with the entire land of Britannia mapped? The 4th game would b a great start, but even as we start, we set our mark on the land. As such roads will develop different. We will end up having much better roads between Britain and Paws. There was some form of an economy in Ultima 7, but that can evolve from the 4th game onward. This sets for a very different game, as such when we start Ultima 5, we are set in a land that evolved from OUR actions in Ultima 4, not just that, as markers of thousands of players are aggregated, the map might evolve differently, We could see that New Magincia and Buccaneers Den would be much larger cities the the places we had (and reset) from 4 up to 7. It is a set shape of RPG that we have not seen before, and that makes it exciting. Even as I was (initially) designing Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, I had something similar in mind. Not merely a stage for a quest, but a stage where we set in motion the action, but beyond managing resources, we get to have no say in the matter. 

It is  stage that is enabled and disabled by us. We tend to forget about the latter part, but it is an equally important stage, because it sets for a different stage of replaying a game. Consider Oblivion and Skyrim, what happens when we set the new Dark Brotherhood? What if we choose not to place the new sanctuary not in Dawnstar? What if there had been an option to place it near Whiterun? The choice is then set for re-playability, which was a focal point for me in TES7: Restoration. 

In addition, I had set more than one red line in the design, a red line the follows markers as you play the game, but markers that cannot be influenced after voices are made. Basically, you get to sleep in the bed you make, you do not get to design the bed. Makers of RPG’s have been so involved in getting everything there that we drown in options, but at times, the gamer can merely inhabit the stage, he/she does not design the stage, it is the cornerstone of something we want to replay and when you consider that Skyrim is still going strong since 11.11.11, what do you think happens when we take away some f the training wheels and give the player the fun of playing and the consequence of choice? It is something that had been lacking in RPG’s for the longest time. I set that in motion in my design, but in the end, it is what the owners of the IP decide to do. 

It was the only issue I had with Skyrim, the grinding to get to the legendary dragon, and I know there are part I missed (not many), yet it gets me back to the avoidance of grinding. What if levels are not the only way of measuring? Why if the player class needs to have at least 1,2 or 3 skills at 100? The thief might have bow, lockpick and sneak at 100, but what would the Mage have? What  would the fighter or assassin have? We forgot to set the stage to a larger field, I cannot tell whether that was intentional or not, I reckon that the PS4 already had the power to take care of these matters, but that is me. What if every skill will give the player an ability at 100? Not skill point driven, but automatically, it could be something trivial. For Sneak it might be pussyfoot for 60 seconds, for the Bow it might be the arrow dagger, for Restoration it might be paralyse soul, for illusion it might be daylight, and so on. We seemingly have forgotten that there are any rods to a solution, but some of the makers (due to no fault of their own) have made most missions a linear stage and we have to evolve from that. Limitations is one way to do that. When you were playing Oblivion (or Skyrim), how many benefits did you get by going to White River Watch on the second play (Skyrim) as soon as possible or Crumbling Mine (Oblivion)? We can up the NPC level on subsequent plays, but what can we gain by limiting what. Person COULD find at the first few levels? What happens when we set a randomiser to some loot not on whether it is there, but where it is? In Skyrim some books are always in the same place, what if that changes? Consider that we have 4 levels of loot, what if those levels (when it is not a quest item) are 4 mixed piles? As such, we could run to the Milkrun Cave, but what we get there would not be a guarantee, in addition, some loot can only be found ONCE! As such certain loot will not be there to spike our personal coffers, just a thought. 

In this day and age, we are not merely on one system, as such we should see what benefits the games could get, it is my personal belief that this is not done enough. I get it, makers like Ubisoft (merely an example) like to be on ALL systems, but what if we set another premise? What if we use the power of Sony and for example Google Stadia to the max what that system can give? Will the gamer not end up with a much better experience? If you doubt that, consider Metroid Prime 1 and 2 on GameCube, a game that is still mostly unsurpassed on Xbox One and PS4 11 years later, an entire generation later, the is the premise we need to return to a field that is maximised, not equalised by the lowest system around. 

Just my point of view, have a great weekend.

 

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Decision time

I had to make a decision, we all do. For the longest of times, basically since 1983 when I got into gaming, I mostly played as many systems as I was able to buy. First the VIC-20, then the CBM-64 and from there the tracks started. PSX, N64, Megadrive, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PSX2, Xbox360, PSX3, PSX4, Xbox One, Switch and soon the PSX5. I have decided to drop the Xbox as an acceptable system, I am not taking in the hype, I am dropping my Xbox One system with 20+ games. Microsoft has left too much gaming betrayal on the road as I personally see it. 

I will admit that there is another reason, my life of 18 hours a day is over, I now need more than 4 hours of sleep a night, a system has to go and Microsoft lost the toss. Too much overhyping go games (not entirely their fault). To be honest, I got the Xbox One for two reasons. The first was Elite Dangerous and the second one is Subnautica, both are now (and have been for a while) Sony games as well. The disappointing Xbox release list and the stage where both the Last of Us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima are so far above whatever the Xbox offered that the choice was simple. 

Let’s look at the station as it now is, over 6 years Microsoft refused to give in to the old station where we do not need to be online. Former boss of Microsoft stated once “We have a system for offline players, it is called Xbox360”, yet and we noticed it, as games showed issues, I have missed out on well over half a dozen achievements. In addition to the offline part, for some reason (as I showed in a previous blog), the Xbox started to upload, it uploaded well over 50% of my monthly allowance whilst I was not playing multiplayer games or online games. Microsoft help-desk said that this was between me and my internet provider. Really? The Xbox uploads without my consent and it was their fault? The entire Azure push and that is almost halfway through my issues with a console that takes the freedom of gaming and makes it a path of data collection. Then we see the headline ‘Microsoft’s xCloud Will Officially Launch in September as Part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate’, there is nothing wrong with the state or the choices, yet it does not show us the amount of patches this gives and the amount of data you require. Even as my link is not great 60GB in one month dented my data usage, I also see that a lot of places in Europe will see more and more congestion, and less data width (especially rural places). When that pressure gives way in too high a setting, how long until the internet providers start chasing gamers? It was within 4 weeks of the Covid-19 when congestion made YouTube and Netflix lower resolution play, no more 4K movies and streaming was reduced. As the American BS war on Huawei (and China) continues, we will see reduced systems faster and more often. So what will happen to those 4K and 8K games? If it does not come in physical format, how much more congestion will we face? As such it is important to make a stand with other gamers and make a choice, I decided to drop the Microsoft console. It was a choice that happened on several factors, several choices were available and the station that is PSX has shown more promise and have left me with less disappointment over the time that I had a Playstation (1995-2020) than the Xbox One (2015-2020),  in that stage, I am clear in my voice when I see the entire stage, it is clear to me that the most powerful console in the world has no business focussing on directing gamers in a direction we need to go, especially when it gets surpassed by the weakest console currently on sale. 

A stage where we will soon see more weak promises and powerful hype creations, I personally see the stage changing by Microsoft Business needs that has less ad less to do with the joy of gaming and more with other needs. I will admit that I might be wrong, but I feel strongly to go in the direction I believe in and as I personally see it, a Microsoft Console is not that way. Over time I might replace it with a Google Stadia, so as we see the stage entering 2021, I might miss out on a game or two, yet at present Ghost of Tsushima has blown me away, The Last of Us 2 blew me away and I expect that Cyberpunk 2077 will blow me away. That will keep me settled until Q2 2021, when the upgrade to Elite Dangerous (4K) comes through (there is a lot of noise but not an official yes or no), I will be set for the largest part. I am not continuing to rely on Ubisoft as its flaws angered me enough to uninstall those games and I feel certain that the disappointments from that address have more negative news to come for gamers on any console. 

2020 has changed a lot for us and I do believe that Microsoft will hide behind hypes soon enough and give half baked information that can be bend in a few directions, yet the clear station where the games of the Nintendo Switch are more fun and more addictive than anything the MS Console can give us is a larger stage, a stage where we wonder why this system? And whilst Kotaku (at https://www.kotaku.com.au/2020/07/xbox-series-x-exclusives-phil-spencer/) gives us ‘Exclusives Are ‘Completely Counter To What Gaming Is About,’ Xbox’s Phil Spencer Says’ we see the real flaw. An exclusive game maximises what is possible and Sony has them, whilst Microsoft gave them up. If it was on multiple systems, games like God of War, Last of Us, Last of Us 2, Spiderman, and Ghost of Tsushima would not be the breathtaking results they are now. And the list is a lot larger, which also implies that some are merely on par, not beyond. Microsoft is largely lacking such a list, which is different from the Xbox360, The elder Scrolls Oblivion, Fable 2, Fable 3, and a list that goes on a long while, Microsoft threw a system advantage that put them on par with the Playstation 3 and let some bureaucrat set the long term goals into the Microsoft greed well and ignoring the population they were serving (the gamers). So now we see the not entirely unexpected ‘completely counter to what is gaming about’, yes, counter to what THEY are about. Gaming is to set the boundaries of gaming forward, to give us the wow factor that Microsoft has largely ignored. Sony never forgot that lesson, not since the first Playstation. 

As Google learns that lesson, it will see that there is more profit in catering to gamers, than to data facilitators. We will see larger shifts in 2021, but not immediately, the next Xbox will get the limelight as it deserves, yet when the issues start hampering the Xbox and as the people will get to read carefully phrased denials and carefully phrased counters, one by one it will impact the gamers more and as they switch to Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5, we will see that Microsoft consoles will end up in 4th or 5th position. I doubt that this will happen in 2021, but 2022 yes, that is entirely possible. I predicted the fall behind Switch a year before it happened, but it did happen and I will be right again and at least now I am ahead of the curve and got rid of my system for a fair price, I wonder when others catch on.

 

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